Can a Placental Abruption Result in Injury or Death of the Mother?

Placental abruption is a scary situation for both mother and baby. It is a serious situation that can cause brain damage for the baby and dangerous hemorrhaging for the mother within minutes of the symptoms. While it is rare in pregnancies, it can be devastating.

What is Placental Abruption?

Placental abruption happens when the placenta peels away from the wall of the uterus. Sometimes it happens abruptly and sometimes it happens over the course of a pregnancy. The placenta is a vital part of fetal development, because it delivers nutrients directly to the baby. It also removes waste products from the baby. As the placenta separates, it can cause a lack of oxygen to the fetus and dangerous amounts of bleeding for the mother. If it goes undiagnosed for a time, the baby can suffer brain damage before anyone finds the cause.

What Causes Placental Abruption?

Many causes of placental abruption exist. The placenta can just start to separate from the uterine wall due to conditions during pregnancy. A lack of amniotic fluid, the weight of the baby, and the mother’s anatomy can all play a role. Certain medical conditions such as an infection in the uterus or high blood pressure can also be catalysts.

Placental abruption can also happen due to trauma. Blunt force trauma from a car accident or a serious fall can cause the placenta to detach. Placental abruption can be part of the uterus or the entire uterus. The more detached, the worse the problems are.

What are the Symptoms of Placental Abruption?

Typically, the first symptoms of placental abruption are bleeding and abdominal pain. Both can come on in an instant and can mimic labor. It might feel like contractions, but with no space in between them. Labor contractions are not usually accompanied by blood, so if you see blood, it is time to head to the hospital immediately. Damage to the baby’s brain can occur within minutes of symptoms, so it is important to act fast.

What is the Treatment for Placental Abruption?

Treatment options for placental abruption depend on the severity of the condition. Any kind of abruption can become a severe problem in a matter of minutes. If detected early, sometimes the mother and baby can stay in the hospital for monitoring. The nurses will monitor the mother’s blood pressure for any signs of preeclampsia, and the baby’s heart rate for any signs of distress.

In more severe cases, an emergency cesarean section may be the only way to save both mom and baby. If the placenta detaches from the uterus, it can no longer provide the baby with the necessary oxygen to breathe. To prevent brain damage, the baby must come out of the womb and go on respiratory support to survive.

Does Placental Abruption Lead to Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) can happen for several reasons. One of these reasons is brain damage. Because placental abruption causes a lack of oxygen to the baby, brain damage is a possible outcome that could lead to CP. The length of time the baby has no oxygen, the degree of separation, and other risk factors all lead to the final diagnosis.

If you suffered from a placental abruption and your baby developed CP, you might be eligible for a medical malpractice suit. Depending on the conditions of your pregnancy and your risk factors, you may want to consult a lawyer to see if the doctors followed the proper protocol during your pregnancy and delivery. There is no way to stop an abruption once it starts, making it extremely important to seek medical care right away.